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The Census It's painless

Isn't it nice to know you count for something?

Seriously, each of us is important -- at least to the U.S. Census.

Yes, those folks who come out once every 10 years, and seem to make as much noise as last year's locusts, will soon be knocking on your door (they started Thursday), asking you to complete a simple form.

Actually, it's quite painless. It took me just a few minutes to complete the information for my wife and me. And they even pay for the postage.

Now granted, the form looks somewhat imposing. It has blanks to fill out for the normal family of 12. For them, I'm sure it will take much longer.

It's important that everyone completes a census form. The data collected impacts the way federal money is distributed to states as well as determining how many representatives we'll have in Washington.

While I'm not sure if many of us would be upset if we lost another politician or two, we wouldn't want to be responsible for costing some worthwhile program for children, the homeless or underprivileged to be cut, would we?

The drop of population noted in the last census cost West Virginia a member of the House of Representatives last time. They won't tell us what else it cost us.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt said it was a person's "civic duty" to complete the forms.

And according to a fact sheet, it's the law. Although that just conjures up a bad movie scene, as in "What are you in for, armed robbery?" Nah, I just forget to fill out my Census form.

The fact sheet also informs us that all Census data is confidential.

"Your privacy is protected by law (Title 13 of the United States Code), which also requires that you answer these questions. That law ensures that your information is only used for statistical purposes and that no unauthorized person can see your form or find out what you tell us -- no other government agency, no court of law, NO ONE."

Some people believe the form is just another form of "Big Brother" watching us, trying to learn our every move.

Personally, the form didn't bother me. I mean, I am who I am, live where I live and will be the race I was when I was born. Something tells me the federal government already knows that.

The form didn't require me to disclose any past sins, who I voted for in 1996 or if I was a member of the National Rifle Association.

Like I said, it was painless.

And remember, it's the law.

So stand up and be counted. Do your part. And like those pesky locusts of last summer, the Census folks will eventually go away. I promise.

John G. Miller is the managing editor of the Exponent and Telegram. His columns appear on Saturday and Sunday. He can be reached at 626-1473 or by e-mail at cpcnews@earthlink.net.

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